I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately. More importantly, I have been wondering what is happening to our communities? Our country was founded on taking care of your neighbor. Being an active member of our towns, schools, churches and being there for our neighbors. Our communities once were our foundations. At the core of nonprofits is community. Places where we all have a common goal that is about caring for others above ourselves. Healthy nonprofits create thriving hives of activity where all the members work very hard to support the members of their group. Healthy communities do the same. Lately, it seems that our communities seem to be suffering. As a result, our world is too.
the importance of our local tribes
In August, I spoke with Bob Dalton of the Love Your City Podcast about the importance of staying local. We discussed why the grassroots work that our local nonprofits do to help others in their community is so important. It’s not to say that huge national organizations are not important. Rather, we need to not lose sight of our local needs and care for those in front of us first.
Then last week, I spoke with Barry Braun of Happy Community Builders. Barry spoke about how we as a human species began and stayed in tribes for thousands of years. In those tribes, there wasn’t hunger or homelessness. The reason is that the tribe insured that everyone was cared for. I can’t stop thinking about that conversation. Somewhere along the way, we became more concerned with ourselves than with our tribe. In addition, we became more concerned about the global community instead of the one we live in.
The Benefits of helping your community
What would our world look like right now if each one of us took care of our own local tribe? If we were actively involved with helping those in our own communities with jobs, food, education, support? If everyone supported each other at a local level the need for global support wouldn’t exists. This may seem like an oversimplification and perhaps it is. When you think about it, which I can’t seem to stop doing, it makes sense.
Community makes us feel connected. It makes us feel safe. Our mental health is stronger because we have that feeling of belonging to a group. Community gives us that safety net that tells us someone is looking out for us. However, today people look to the government for that feeling rather than next door. We live in neighborhoods where we don’t know our neighbors. Do we know the name of the people who work at our local market? These tiny threads of kindness are what strengthens the fabric that keeps us together.
What happens when Connections erode?
When these threads are cut our connections erode. Then isolation sets in which is usually followed by fear. Sadly, the result of fear brings the innate need to self protect rather than the need to reach out to others. We become overwhelmed and shut down. That fear can erode so much goodness. We lose faith in one another and distrust becomes a cancer that destroys connection.
As humans, we are meant to be connected, to support one another like bees in a hive. We all have a job and a role to make our communities stronger by working together. Fear robs us all of the honey and the sweetness of feeling connected. But where and how do we start to change this?
What can we do to make our world better?
What are we to do when the news tells us the sky is falling? First, turn off the news! Secondly, we all need to take baby steps towards knowing our neighbors, teachers, grocers and the people in our communities. We need to strengthen our neighborhoods by getting together. Support our schools and places of worship. Get involved! If each of us takes these tiny steps to make our own communities stronger. As a result, we become more unified. Ultimately, we make our world a better place one community at a time. It all starts with us.
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